DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is in college and needs to declare a major. She is torn between several interests. When I reminded her of the things that she has shown interest in over the years, she got testy with me and didn’t want to listen.
It seems like she wants my input, but she instantly rejects it when I make a suggestion. I get that she is frustrated because she is uncertain, but I can’t help her if all she does is get an attitude and tell me what I recommend is out of the question. How can I help her? -- Child on the Fence, Boston
DEAR CHILD ON THE FENCE: Declaring a major is a huge step toward independence. It can set a person on a course for the rest of their life. To that end, it is best when it is discovered by the person who is doing the declaration. It is understandable that your daughter wants your support, to a certain extent. She does trust you and knows that you have good ideas. At the same time, she knows that she should make this decision based on what her studies and spirit are leading her to do.
The best thing you can do is to exercise patience and be a good listener. Do not take her sharpness personally. Understand that this is part of the process of becoming independent, and it is difficult. It’s also worth noting that people often change their majors if they discover that it isn’t a perfect fit. You can let her know that the choice does not have to be written in stone.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I were invited to go camping for a few days with one of his favorite couples. We have only recently started dating seriously, and I am just getting to know him. I have learned that he loves the outdoors and things like camping, but I don’t.
I have never gone camping, so I don’t know what to expect. I want to be a good sport while not misleading him. I need a complete tutorial, and I’m afraid that my boyfriend doesn’t understand how green I am. How can I prepare for this trip? -- About to Camp, Darien, Connecticut
DEAR ABOUT TO CAMP: Start researching this trip in particular right now. Look up the campsite to see where it is and what is available there. Contact your boyfriend’s friends and tell them you want to be ready for the trip. Explain that you have never camped before, so you need a step-by-step list of what you need and what to expect. Talk to your boyfriend about your desire to go and your trepidation about never having done this before. Ask for his input and suggestions for how to make this a successful and safe trip. Ask for help in making a list of the gear that you need. Find out if your boyfriend or his friends have any gear to share with you. Equipping yourself can be expensive, but it’s wise to have the right shoes, outerwear, sleeping gear and flashlights to stay safe and warm. Keep asking questions until you feel comfortable that you are ready to go.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)